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SUSAN ELIZABETH COOPER - BURLINGTON - Susan Elizabeth Cooper of Burlington died on Oct. 17, 2012, in Fletcher Allen Health Care, following an unexpected heart attack, with her daughter by her side. Susan was born on Aug. 13, 1922, in Indianapolis, Ind., to Ralph Stephenson and Mildred Hill Stephenson. The family lived in the states of Alabama and Washington before settling in Michigan. Susan graduated from Grosse Pointe High School in 1940 and earned her bachelor's degree at the University of Michigan in 1944. On April 5, 1944, Susan married Henry Cooper following his return from work as an ambulance driver for the American Field Service in the Middle East. His service in the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army took them to bases in Colorado and Iowa. After the war, they moved to Chicago where Henry attended Meadville Theological School at the University of Chicago. His career as a Unitarian minister led them to parishes in eight communities in Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont. Susan participated actively in church activities. She taught school briefly and took graduate courses at Assumption College in Worcester, Mass. Committed to issues of peace and social justice, she attended the 1963 civil rights march in Washington D.C., participated in the peace movement, and was member of a court diversion board in Springfield. After Henry's death in 1984, she moved to Burlington where she was active in the Unitarian Universalist Society and the American Association of University Women. She volunteered at the Medical Center Hospital of Vermont and met with friends monthly to read plays aloud. During the last three years of her life she participated in a clinical research trial of a drug designed to alter the course of Alzheimer's disease. In March 2010, Susan found a peaceful home in the Gardenview unit at the Converse Home in Burlington. She was cared for by gentle, thoughtful people who appreciated her feisty personality, her quirky wit, her remarkable vocabulary, her knowledge of current and historical events, and her concern for the needs of other residents. She was no longer burdened by responsibilities, she was never lonely, and she was engaged in interesting activities. She lived joyfully in the moment, stopping to pick up a fallen leaf, to look at a flower, or to watch a butterfly. Her family is immensely grateful for the refuge which Converse Home provided. We offer thanks to Laurel Plante, MD, and staff of the Fletcher Allen Emergency Department who assured that Susan's transition from life to death was peaceful and to Chaplain Karen Pozniak who prayed with Susan as she died. Susan is survived by her daughter, Marga Sproul and her husband, Glenn, of South Burlington; her son, Paul Cooper and his wife, Rebecca Eaton, of Kennebunkport, Maine; her daughter, Christine Cooper of Seattle, Wash.; her son, Hal Cooper of Moscow, Idaho; and her grandchildren, Adrian Sproul, Daniel Sproul, Grayson Schaffer, Ethan Schaffer, and Katherine Cooper. She was predeceased by her parents; her brother, Charles Stephenson; her sister, Jane Busby; and her nephew, Gregg Stephenson. Susan's body was cremated. Next spring, her family will gather to bury her ashes next to those of her husband at Parker Hill Cemetery in Springfield. Arrangements were made by the Cremation Society of Chittenden County, a division of the Ready Family, 261 Shelburne Rd., Burlington. To send online condolences please visit Those who wish may make memorial contributions to Converse Home Activities, 272 Church St., Burlington, VT 05401; or to Meals on Wheels, 3 Cathedral Square, Burlington, VT 05401. Meals on Wheels helped Susan live in her own home for as long as possible.

Published in The Burlington Free Press on Oct. 24, 2012
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